Last week, founders of Small Change Vietnam travelled to Hoi An to meet with Neal Bermas, the driving force behind locally based social enterprise Streets International and the recipient of our first funding project.
Streets International delivers a comprehensive 18-month training programme to disadvantaged Vietnamese youth, equipping them with the skills and experience needed to get jobs in the hospitality industry. Small Change Vietnam will provide essential scholarship funding for future trainees.
Through this life changing opportunity, many Streets graduates have gone on to work in 5-star hotels and restaurants around the world, while others have opened their own successful businesses. The opportunities that Streets International offers have far reaching impact, not only for graduates but also their families.
Oodles of Noodles
Located at the top of Le Loi street, Oodles of Noodles gives Streets trainees valuable customer facing experience and the opportunity to practice their English speaking and presentation skills.
The young chefs enthusiastically lead tourists and travellers through a Vietnamese noodle making class, introducing them to the different styles of local noodles and giving them the chance to make their own.
Visitors are also able to join Oodles of Noodles street food tour, visiting a local market and sampling typical dishes as they are guided around Hoi An old town.
Learning how to do it
Trainees complete either a front-of-house hospitality or kitchen culinary programme during their training with Streets. Their development is not only a classroom and practice objective but integrated into the various components of the comprehensive programme, increasing the trainees’ sense of dignity, community and responsibility.
One of the skills that sets Streets graduates apart from others is their English language ability. As well as being trained in hospitality and cooking, all students complete an intensive English language programme.
Here they learn the language needed to communicate effectively in both a front-of-house or kitchen environment, giving them an edge over much of the competition when they graduate and enter the job market.
The specially designed course builds confidence and language ability, taking the young chefs from absolute beginners to a level where they can interact comfortably with guests and colleagues.
Time out for dinner
The renowned Streets Restaurant Café is located at 17 Le Loi street in a beautifully restored house just a short distance from Oodles of Noodles. Trainees spend part of the weekly programme in the restaurant, applying what they have learned with hands-on practice.
Open daily for lunch and dinner the restaurant serves a carefully selected menu of contemporary Vietnamese and international cuisines and gives trainees the opportunity to showcase their skills.
One of the highlights of the restaurant is the acclaimed Hoi An Tasting Menu, offering diners a taste of the iconic dishes unique to Hoi An. The revenue generated by the popular restaurant goes towards funding the comprehensive training programme
And on for breakfast
New to the Streets International group is 9 Grains by Streets, located 441 Hai Ba Trung just a short walk from the centre of town.
This recently acquired bakery and café adds a welcome element to the training programme, giving trainees the opportunity to hone their baking skills under the careful guidance of foreign master bakers who volunteer their time.
The fresh, modern café with a large outside patio serves excellent coffee and smoothies and a selection of freshly baked pastries and bread.